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BANKING

Ghana's fleet-footed operator

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Ghana's third-largest bank by assets and deposits, Social Security Bank (SSB), is the most serious local competitor to Standard Chartered and Barclays. It operates 39 branches and boasts an aggressive marketing strategy.

Its search for a foreign strategic partner was successfully concluded in February 1997, when a consortium of emerging-market investment funds, led by London-based Blakeney Management, acquired a 52% stake in the bank. The consortium also included George Soros's Quantum Fund, Alliance Capital, Morgan Stanley Asset Management and JP Morgan Investment Management which were among the first investors following the opening of Ghana's stock exchange to foreigners in 1993.

"We were attracted by the good management," says Joe Denby, private-equity manager at Blakeney, which had closely tracked SSB's fortunes over three years before buying its stake. "I'm unconvinced that there is a better bank manager in Ghana than [managing director] Pryce Kojo Thompson."


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